Thomas De Quincey ’s life (1785 – 1859) is a romance. Escaped from school, he went to
Wales and to . Then he got a degree in London (1802) . In 1809 he settled (= si stabilì) in the Lake District together with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth and Robert Southey, and started running the magazine Westmorland Gazette. After living in Oxford London for 8 years, he established in . In Edinburgh he wrote his autobiographical masterpiece (= capolavoro) Confessions of an Opium Eater (1821): it is about his laudanum (opium and alcohol) addiction (= abuso) and its effect on his life. Published anonymously in London 1821 in the London Magazine, it was printed in book form in 1822.
Th. De Quincey‘s story of the Confessions is mainly organized into two parts: the first is about the emotional and psychological factors that cause the opium experience when he ran away from home; the second is about both the pleasure and the pains as an opium addict, and the troubles addiction provokes – insomnia, nightmares, frightening visions, and difficult physical symptoms
As it is easily guessed (= comprensibile), from its first appearance, the Confessions attracted attention and comment. Famous during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, in the 19th century the novel was criticized for presenting a picture of the opium experience that was too positive and too attractive to readers. The fear of being attractive was not unjustified: Francis Thompson, James Thomson, William Blair, Branwell Brontë are clear examples of writers who experienced drugs after reading De Quincey’s story. Charles Baudelaire translated the work into French: Les paradis artificiels (1860) and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in The Man with the Twisted Lip, one of the Sherlock Holmes’s stories (1891), deal with an opium addict who began experimenting with the drug as a student after reading the Confessions.